Infection models with human immune cells

For the analysis of the host-pathogen interaction within the scope of systemic infections and sepsis, we use infection models for primary human immune cells including neutrophilic granulocytes [PMN], monocytes [MoC], dendritic cells  [DC] and natural killer cells [NKC] (Voigt et al., 2014, Hellwig et al., 2016). Live-cell-imaging plays a key role with regard to those analyzes. We were able to show how immune cells interact with various immune cells and that these cells discriminate between different fungal species (Duggan et al., 2015, Essig et al., 2015). Using this technique and in cooperation with HKI research group Applied Systems Biology (ASB, Prof. M.T. Figge) we are able to generate models to quantify host-pathogen interaction (Brandes et al., 2017). To be able to analyze the interactions of different human immune cells in response to pathogenic fungi, a whole-blood infection model was established. This allows the analysis of the pathogen distribution to different compartments. At the same time the activation of immune cells and the adaptation of the pathogen can be quantified. In this way, we can compare blood samples of healthy donors and patient samples. In cooperation with ASB, a virtual infection model was developed that enables us to measure the dynamics of this interaction (Hünniger et al., 2014). Moreover, we investigate the influence of the C. albicans quorum sensing molecule farnesol on the immune response of the host (Leonhardt et al, 2015).  

Germinating cells of the human pathogenic yeast C. albicans are taken up (phagozytosed) by neutrophils.